How to Design a Garden

Garden Texture and Forms

Artichokes are not only edible, they also offer great textures to your garden.

As with color, you can give your garden a finished and designed look with texture and forms. The whole design should have cohesiveness, which you can achieve with repetition. If you have a brick walkway, use more brick for other elements such as terraces or built-in planters. It doesn't all have to be brick -- you might have a path of "freebie" wood chips, but edge it with two lines of brick just for the sake of continuity. If you have stone in one place, brick over here, railroad ties over there, and round cement pavers in another spot, it all looks too jumbled.

Consider varying leaf sizes for more design interest. Large leaves like those on hostas or oak leaf hydrangeas advance and stand out (similar to warm-colored flowers). They are striking in prominent locations, but if overused they will lose their impact.

Small or finely textured leaves, as on thread leaf coreopsis or carrot tops, recede from the eye and look farther away. They can best be appreciated up close. If you are trying to make a garden look deeper, these varieties might be used toward the rear as a floral optical illusion. But when used exclusively, fine-textured leaves may look busy and weedy.

Flower size is another variable for an interesting design. Large flowers are bold and prominent. Smaller flowers and fine flower clusters recede. Blending airy small flower sprays with large, bold flowers combines the best of both textures. Planting larger flowers toward the front of a garden and smaller flowers toward the rear increases visual depth.

So, what is your personal style? Do you dream of an English garden or are you more prone to feel at home in a casual setting? On the next pages, we will look at garden styles.

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